Tulane challenges No. 17 St. John's

Dec 28, 2014 - 3:25 PM Brooklyn, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of teams off to impressive starts get together at the Barclays Center on Sunday afternoon, as the Tulane Green Wave challenge the 17th-ranked St. John's Red Storm in the Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival.

Tulane opened the season with a 71-49 home loss to Wake Forest, but then reeled off nine consecutive victories, including a 59-54 decision against Mississippi State on Dec. 6. The Green Wave are 8-1 at home, but 1-1 on the road, where they played their last game and fell to the Washington Huskies three days before Christmas, 66-57. Next up, Tulane will begin its inaugural season as a member of the American Athletic Conference with a New Year's Eve tilt at fellow conference newcomer East Carolina.

At 10-1, St. John's is off to its best start since 1990-91, and the team is riding the wave of a six-game win streak. It is also Steve Lavin's best start in his 11-year career as a head coach. The Red Storm have won their last six games since suffering their lone setback to Gonzaga on Nov. 28 (73-66). St. John's, which knocked off visiting Long Beach State last Monday in its most recent outing (66-49), is slated to tip off its Big East Conference slate at Seton Hall on New Year's Eve.

This bout marks the third meeting all-time between these two teams, with Tulane winning first two, the most recent of which took place at the Rainbow Classic in Hawaii back in December of 2007 (79-71).

Tulane had a rough time of it at both ends of the court in its recent clash with Washington, shooting only 31.7 percent from the field, while allowing the Huskies to connect on 52.1 percent of their total shots. The Green Wave were actually more efficient from out on the perimeter, knocking down 7-of-17 3- point tries (.412), but they converted only 12-of-20 free throws. Dylan Osetkowski came off the bench to score a team-high 12 points, and he grabbed nine rebounds for good measure, while Jay Hook tallied 11 points and Jonathan Stark 10 more for a TU squad that won the battle on the boards (36-33), while goading the Huskies into 18 turnovers.

Tulane, which is playing at the Brooklyn Nets home arena for the third straight season, is led by Louis Dabney's 12.5 ppg. Hook is hot on his heels with 12.0 ppg, and Stark is close behind at 11.3 ppg, while also serving as the team's primary playmaker with 3.6 apg. As a team, the Green Wave are putting up 71.5 ppg in hitting 46.7 percent of their field goal attempts, which includes a 35.3 percent showing from beyond the arc. Conversely, their opponents are netting 61.0 ppg behind typical shooting efforts of .425 overall and .283 from 3-point land. Factor in a +6.5 rebounding margin and it's not difficult to see why the team is off to such a solid start.

St. John's put the clamps on Long Beach State in its most recent outing, as it held the 49ers to 32.3 percent field goal efficiency and forced 17 turnovers. The Red Storm had four starters score in double figures, and the one that didn't (D'Angelo Harrison - nine points, 10 rebounds) came with a single point of logging a double-double. Chris Obekpa and Phil Greene IV paced the team with 16 points apiece, while Sir'Dominic Pointer and Jamal Brach added 11 points each. Pointer was credited with half of the team's 14 assists. LBSU scored only two points at the free-throw line, but did manage to outscore the Red Storm from distance, draining seven treys compared to only three for the home team.

St. John's is led by Harrison's 18.8 ppg, while Rysheed Jordan adds 14.5 ppg, Greene 11.5 ppg and Pointer 10.4 ppg. Obekpa spearheads the team's rebounding effort with 8.8 rpg, and he gets help in that area from both Pointer (7.9 rpg) and Harrison (6.9 rpg). Overall, the Red Storm are putting up 70.8 ppg in hitting 44.1 percent of their total shots, but only 31.3 percent of their 3- point attempts. The team's defensive effort has been superb, with foes netting a mere 58.3 ppg behind shooting efforts that see it finding the bottom of the net 36.3 percent of the time, including a 28.4 percent performance from beyond the arc. Opponents have really struggled at the charity stripe (.591), while also turning the ball over nearly 15 times per contest.

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